Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

What Do You Do With Those Old Photos?

Few things are more heartwarming than going through your old photos. You get to see an illustration of where you’ve been–along with laughable hairstyles and clothing.

But when do most of us go through our old photos? When we’re moving, of course. We take these strolls down memory lane in between packing boxes. We reminisce, decide we can’t just chuck out our pasts and seal them back up in boxes. We repeat this process in 5-10 years when we move again.

You want to keep a record of your life, but stashing photos in a box for decades and shifting them from one storage space to the next gets expensive and complicates your life. It’s also not that great for the preservation of the photos. And say what you will about digital photos, but they are far more portable, allow easier access should you want to peruse or print them and don’t yellow and crack like their papered brethren.

While scanning photos yourself is possible, it’s a pain that most of us don’t want to endure. Here are a couple affordable services that do high-quality digital conversions of your old photos (note: this is for 4″ x 6″ photos. Optional services include scanning negatives and other formats. Prices vary.)

  • ScanCafe charges $.29/scan at 600 dpi. What’s nice is they allow you to pick and choose which shots you want to keep before charging. They also add a Value Kit which gets the price down to $.22/scan; there’s a longer turnaround and they scan everything you send rather than letting you pick and choose. Shipping and color correction included.
  • Scan My Photos sells you a 11″ x 8.5″ x 5.5″ box to fill with as many photos as you want. 300 dpi runs $159 $99 and 600 dpi is $247 $189. Postage for returning photos is included, color-correction is not.

There are many other vendors, but most of their pricing begins at $.35/scan, which adds up quick. And while the above might seem like a lot of money, consider the cost of carrying around your old photos, the inaccessibility of photos stashed away in your basement and the eventual loss when the photos yellow, curl and die.

If you have other suggestions for photo-digitization, please share them in our comment section.

Note: This post originally posted last year, but due to frequent questions about photo digitization, we thought we’d repost. 

image credit Pack Peddler’s Place

  • Ross Porter

    I have a friend who used ScanCafe. The results were fine, not stellar. Which works for me. The price is quite reasonable. And for truly special photos, I can scan them myself or use a local service to get a really good scan. And I wouldn’t want to send those special photos offshore anyway. An interesting side effect of having more photos in electronic form is that you can print them in special ways. For instance, I used (there are many other such services) to create a photo book for my parents, who prefer their photos in printed form. blurb printed and shipped the book. My Mom said, “Perhaps the nicest gift we have ever received”.

  • MarkSwi

    I used ScanCafe to digitize hundreds of photos a few years ago. The several that I had retouched were done really well and family loved seeing them. I have kept the photos that they sent back to me in the boxes and got rid of the old smelly albums. Another benefit to this is the tagging, facial recognition, contextualiaztion, and cataloguing that’s possible with iPhoto. I combined this with automated cloud backups of my iPhoto library to CrashPlan for 100% redundancy. Being able to reference and call up 20-60 year old photos has made me enjoy and appreciate them more, and they’ve entered our ‘mindfulness’ headspace a lot more than if they were hidden in albums. I just wish that my extended family would do the same.

  • Kirstjen

    I also used ScanCafe for virtually my entire photo collection. Now I also share them on with family members. In the process, I actually gave the photos of each of my family members to them, to dispose of as they see fit. I’ve also shared old high school, college & military photos on online “reunion” forums, which has been a lot of fun. I’m getting ready to send off carousels of slides which nobody in my family has even looked at (for want of proper equipment) in 35-40 years.

    For me, the best thing about getting the photos scanned, is that I actually see a few old photos every single day, as my screensaver, and they bring me a lot of joy.

  • Good post, there are many other speedy and efficient methods for photo digitization.